Atchafalaya Swamp

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Mat Salo's Sometimes Weekly Indo Reports

Birth of a new sport: Malaysia Bashing

Oh let’ see.

[Flipping through yesterday’s The Jakarta Post’s July 7, 2007 issue]

Hmmm, more “Malaysia-bashing”, so what else is new?

Perhaps Malaysia deserved to be bashed. . .

Luthfi Assyaukanie’s analysis, entitled “The growing discrimination against minorities in Malaysia” is strongly critical of Malaysia’s policies. Luthfi is a research fellow at the Freedom Institute, Jakarta, and a lot of his “research” was apparently garnered by trawling through RPK’s Malaysia Today. So Luthfi is an unabashed “Malaysia Watcher”, which in my opinion, is a good thing. It’s always interesting to know what our neighbors think of us – whether our dirty laundry hanging in the clothesline offends them.

His main target is Badawi’s Islam Hadhari, with Luthfi stressing the concept to be flawed, and preceded to shred two of the “Ten principles of Islam Hadhari”, namely:

  • Freedom and independence for the people

  • Protection of the rights of minority groups

Luthfi stated various recent examples to back his argument, and include “the conversion issues”: Muslim woman married to a Hindu, arrested and sent for rehabilitation and R. Subashini’s case whose husband converted to Islam. The latter failed to get a Civil Court custodial hearing and was forced to go to Sharia court. The no-brainer was, of course, Madam Subashini losing custody of her children. To her, seeking recourse in a Sharia court is akin to putting a kitten in a dog kennel.

Then there was Lina Joy, which in Luthfi’s said was a “contradiction that is Islam Hadhari”. And so on.

He also quoted Anwar Ibrahim, who claimed disappointment over the cancellation of the inter-faith conference last May, and said, 'A dialogue would enable us to quell the tensions that arise from our differences'. Luthfi echoed Anwar’s sentiment stating, ‘the last minute cancellation . . . itself a manifestation of the paradox of the oft-campaigned “Islam Hadhari”’.

Wow, this is all heady stuff. On the one hand, Luthfi appeared to be right. But are they, really?

But for Luthfi’s essay to appear on the influential editorial page of Indonesia’s premier English broadsheet means Badawi’s Islam Hadhari is being watched very closely by its neighbor Indonesia, which may or may not spell anything on the diplomatic front.

But with “sensational” news that was played up in the Indonesian press recently, in particular the maltreatment of its Tee-Kay-Weys (TKW – Tenaga Kerja Wanita – maids, to you and me) - Malaysia seems to be fair game for the sport of “Malaysia Bashing”.

So how my fellow citizens in Bolaysia, are we “fair game”?

[Please also see a related story in Kak Ena's recent blog]

Pak Obama, warga Indonesia?

On a lighter note, I was much taken with today’s Sunday Edition of
The Jakarta Post. In it was a story by an American journalist bent on discovering U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s Indonesian past.

Senator Obama’s colorful C.V. included a four year stint in Menteng, Indonesia, where the Senator once lived in a modest house with a single-mother parent (and an absent father) and attended grade school there.

The reporter had also tracked down Senator Obama’s one-time teacher, a certain “Ibu Is”, and also met one of the potential U.S. president’s classmate.

Ibu Is had brought the reporter Trish Anderton into Fransiskus Assisi’s grade school office, where the register listed the US Senator as “Barry Soetoro”.

To quote Miss Anderton:

'Barack Obama was born to a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. The couple split up when he was two years old. Then his mother fell in love with an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. She married him and moved with Obama to Jakarta in 1967.

Obama wasn't shielded in an expat bubble. He played with Indonesian kids and went to Indonesian schools. But his mother's marriage failed, and Obama moved to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. He grew up to become a community organizer and eventually a Democratic senator and presidential hopeful'.

My, my, somewhere among the ¼ billion is an Indonesian with the name Lolo Soetoro, and whether he will ever come out to claim his stake on the Senator is anybody’s guess. He was once , after all, Obama’s “father”. Perhaps Mr. Lolo has passed on, but it will indeed be interesting if Senator Obama ever gets to be President of The United States.

You can bet that all kinds of people would come out of the woodwork here in Indonesia, claiming a “connection” to the Most Powerful Man on Earth.

Oh Senator, gi mana Pak?

The Iconic Pak Zainudin

Yesterday, Pak Zizou, former Les Blues skipper and three-time FIFA Player of the Year, descended by chopper to the remote village of Cisaat, Subang, West Java. Cisaat is about a four hour drive from Jakarta.

Zizou is in town as part of his United Nations Development Program’s involvement as a Goodwill Ambassador. A coaching clinic was held for Cisaat’s lucky elementary school students. Frank Riboud, the French Danone Groupe President was also shown in the papers to be kicking the ball, amidst the backdrop of dairy cows and jilbab-clad schoolgirls.

According to the
story, the organizers claimed that “the village will become a model milk-producing village”. Groupe Danone is financing the project. Anybody who has been to Indonesia and drank it’s most popular bottled water “Aqua” already knows that Danone owns "Aqua".

Sometime earlier this morning, Indonesian TV news carried footage of “Pak Zainudin” playing “Futsal on the Street” on Jalan Jend. Sudirman. No doubt sponsored by Danone as well.

Syabas Pak Zainudin!

More news on the former Juventus' and Real Madrid's playmaker here.


Mat Salo, with the roving eye, was appointed Bolaysia's "Roving Ambassador" to Balikpapan recently. A chance meeting with Mejar Mahzan, Malaysia's Military Liason Officer there precipitated the event. Kapten Mohd. Faizal of Samarinda's Malaysian Military Liason Office was also present to commemorate and bear witness to the occasion.

What the hell did Mat Salo get himself into this time?

Part of his duties include getting a list of all known Warga Bolaysia who are residents of this oil-town. The reason, according to the Mejar, in case "something happens" - like war due to situation of the disputed territories in the Ambalaat region, for instance. Or to repatriate mortal remains. Let's not go there, oh puhleeeze.

Contrary to popular opinion, he does not get paid for this thankless appointment. Nor is he privy to lucrative MINDEF contracts.

Apparently, some years back, an M.O.U. was signed between the two countries to foster good military relations by providing corresponding liason offices in Borneo. In Kuching, an Indonesian Military Liason Officer with the rank of Major is also provided a car and suitable premises to host Indonesia's Liason Office.

The funny thing was, when Mejar Mahzan and Mat Salo first met, the Mejar spoke in the Indonesian dialect and Mat Salo had no choice but to reply in-kind. It was only after Mat Salo had identified himself properly did the slang of the Air Tawar, Perak native changed.

Doesn't MS look like a native Bolaysian anymore? Well, this is news, indeed.

There are no consulates in either Balikpapan or Samarinda and the only consulate is in Pontianak, an eight hour drive south of Kuching, Sarawak. But "Ponti" might as well be in Timbuktu, as there are no direct flights there. Not from Balikpapan anyway. Pontianak is also inacessible by road from Balikpapan, and I read somewhere that the 4WD Petronas Nusantara expedition took three days to get from Pontianak to here.

I understand the expedition also required the use of pontoons and ferries. And a whole lot of money too.


A Voice said...

I am sure you wud provide a better foreign service than our rather hopeless unsympathetic embassies and foreign ofices.

My brader was "one such unofficial" ambassador at Toronto during 9-11. When our citizens travellign from US to Canada were stranded, the embassy people didn't botehr to actually help and it was left to my brader to help.

Careful to not get used by them.


Mat Salo,

brother, is there anything you cannot do?

and, by the way, you know what they say about how one's environment can shape one's, er, appearance?

i shall say no more..

i ditto Voice's comment!

Nak Tak Nak said...

Look, they have every right to bash us the way our uncivilised people bashed their women. Anyway their men are not that civilised either so that kinda balance things out.

See you've been keeping yourself busy Mr Ambasador.

J.T. said...

I thought it was so inconvenient for me to drive 3 hours to the closest Malaysian consulate.
8 hours for you! wow.. At least I have the autobahn. :D
I need to get down on my knees and thank God!
Another surprise was that this particular consulate, Honorary Consulate to be exact (in Böblingen), is very efficient. I found out later that it is run by Germans. That's why! :)
(I shouldn't be so mean but I cannot help it based on previous personal experiences).

As for Malaysia bashing, we reap what we sow. :)

Of course you still look like a native Bolaysian. You also look like a Latino and a Filipino too. :)

Rajahram Ramalingam said...

A very interesting and very informative write up of news from Indonesia. Being also interested in Indonesia, besides Malaysia and the rest of the world, I really enjoyed your coverage from down south and what they think of us. Please do this more often as time permits because it gives a good insight of our neighbour, ten times our size, and a little lethargic. If possible we could also share with them our experiences in nation building and also learn from them of theirs. With your style and command of language, writing a bestseller should not be far off !

Mat Salo said...

Brader A Voice..

Yes bro' tks for the advice. I will not let them "use" me - and my appointment is just "goodwill" on my part. After all, I'm just a civillian.

I spent four years in Vietnam in the late 90's and I was asked by our consulate to do the same thing. Thankless job but always interesting to meet people . . . lucky no bad incidents for me - so far.

Kak Ena,

No laa, PLENTY of things I could NEVER do..

Err... are you insinuating that I've "turned Indon"? Ha-ha.


Err.. perhaps I didn't make it clear. Balikpapan IS ON THE OTHER SIDE of Borneo, so Pontianak, our consulate is 8 hours south of Kuching. The 4WD "Camel Trophy-type" convoy took 3 days to get from Pontianak to Balikpapan, crossing rivers, using make-shift ferries and so on. Very far lah sis. Hence our Military LO here needs some idiot like me to do the honors... hehe..

Yes, as far as "hantam" is concerned, perhaps you're right: We reap what we sow...


Awat ni Chegu, jadi "ambassador" tak bertauliah ..Hampeh, buat kerja yang orang lain taknak. Wisma Putra (once bawah naungan PM kita dulu) tarak duit kot? Mat Salo jadi bidan teghjon... hai..

Mr. Rajahram,

Actually in recent years, our neighbor has been less condenscending towards us and in fact, these days I feel they look at us with envy.

Just today, in the Jakarta Post, there was an article on why hasn't Indo got a GLC-type company like Khazanah or Singapore's Temasek. Apparently they wish to emulate us in this regards.

Yes, I will try to highlight some relevant things from time to time. I think it's wise for our Gov't to pay attention to its "giant" neighbor. And you're right, its size makes it somewhat lethargic.

Right now the lawmakers in Indo are crying foul over a recent treaty with Singapore and claims it is lop-sided and favors Singapore too much... So we have this unique dynamics that is Indo-Mal-Sing.

Interesting to say the least.

Always enjoy your opinion and feedback, Sir...

J.T. said...

Sorry bro... I did not read carefully. 3 days to get from Pontianak to Balikpapan; 8-hour drive from Kuching to Pontianak. That's just crazy-far.
Luckily, they have Mat Salo a.k.a. Mr Roving "Eye" Ambassador to help them out. Maybe in the course of your work, you may find out about some lucrative MINDEF contracts. :D

tokasid said...

Salam saudara ku pak Matsalo:

Waduh pak dong. Banyak sekali berita dari selatan dan tenggara iya pak. Makasih dong.
Saya akan bangga jika Pak Oboma matan warga Indonesia temporari bisa jadi Presiden USA pak. bayangkan iya! Matan warga Indon yang berdarah campur Kenya-USA yang pernah menjamah tempe dan gudeg bisa di tampuk White House. Ngak mustahil ya pak!

Pak Zizou ketemu warga Subang. Waduh...cemburu gue. Apa ngak di sebut sebagei Pak Jainuddin di Subang pak?

Bashing your neighbouring countries is nothing new. We had seen Indonesian bashing,Singapore bashing and Thailand bashing on our part. Have we forget how we bashed Indon over the jerebu issue?(yes the jerebu is back but the bashing is still absent). How we bashed the Siamese on their handling of Patani region( and we forgot how we threated our own citizens whom we suspect on extremism...we sent them to Kamunting Resort for a long holiday). These bashings episodes are political related issues.And we haven't seen the last of it.

Tahniah pak kerna diangkat sebagai unofficial( not un-ofis-sial)pak ambasadur oleh kantor tentera di sana. Mana tahu ya pak...kalau nanti bisa jadi pak ambasadur yang bener, satu hari nanti( itu pun jika pak Che'gu jadi PM selepas dia menjadi penanam tembakau sendiri).

Jangan malu-malu mau lapor lagi berita dari seberang iya pak.
saya akhirin dengan salam buat bapak di sana.Assalamu'alaikum.

Rajahram Ramalingam said...

Dear Mat Salo, in your comments to me you mentioned "issue" being very complicated and "awareness" being hard to grasp. I assume you are referring to climate change. And you want me to do a post on climate change. Am I correct?

Mat Salo said...

Mr. Rajahram,

You are correct on that assumption, Sir. I believe even scientists are at odds over the "climate change" thingy because the factors involved are too great. But perhaps you care too do justice to an article for the ordinary layman, Sir?

I'm sure it is most welcome.

Teman seperjuangan ku Doc TA,

Iya Pak,

Baru aje gue sebutin, koran ari ini juga banyak membawa hal-hal di seberang lagi.

Di koran Jakarta Post, Halaman ke 10 membawa kasus Tian Chua dengan gambar "fake" itu...

Di koran yang sama, Hal. 12 pula .. "Abdullah vows to resovle muslim conversion woes"...

Apa lagi?

Hal. 21 pula (yg. ni of interst to sheih) .. "Rise of Islam Rankles Minority's Faith". Reporting set at a Christian Orang Asli village in Kelantan, interviewing an angry Christian preacher of the Temiar tribe by the name of Sazali Pengsang.

Sazali ni marah lah sebab gomen pecah church depa. Aku pon marah. Nak tanya sama Bakaq nanti.. ini saper punya keje, keja'an Pusat ke? I hope it's not MUIS Klante.. I will be very pissed off, sebab aku repek Pah. Takde keje ke dok destroy church depa?

Coba hang find-out? Tanya Bakaq or something?


alliedmartster said...

PMS...(Pak Mat Salo)...he he
But you do....I hope I am not insulting you in any way...look like err....Balikpapanese? he he
at first glance, I didn't think you were local Bolehsian...but having spoken to you many times, I am convinced you are!

Hey, better to blend in then to stick out like a sore thumb, wouldn't you agree?? Less you like the way it did in Sudan!

Cheers, buddy

Mat Salo said...

Err.. That's what I thought, bro..

I suppose I should take that as a compliment.. heh-heh..

Just this morning some idiot Bolaysian called me on my HP, "Is that the Malaysian Honorary Consul?"

Damn, they'd better give me a Diplomatic Passport soon...

elviza said...


sorry this is off topic. But, did you get the song from TT DJ?

zorro said...

Hey my Swamp Man. When you are tired of the swamps and the moseys and the oil, you could do a better job than our embassy and consulate people. My daughter in the Bahamas upon advice from KL, got her passport go trans-atlantic from Washington to London and then back to Washington and thence back to her in Nassau with this message: sorry we cannot do anything....u need to go back to KL to sort out the matter. By then her passport had expired and the ding-dongs across the Atlantic too some three months. Papa Zorro had no choice but to go to Parliament to meet old buddy Datuk Seri Azmi for help. The next morning Putrajaya issued an EMERGENCY CERTIFICATE for Patrina to come back to settle her passport. It cost her a bomb of course travelling. 2020 and with all the e-shit going around, Malaysians cannot do the simple updating of a passport. Sorry, Swamp Man, but I spit on midgets that govern us.

Sheih said...

Salam Bro,

Thanks for the email. While I was thinking to go out at shoot all the three (or four) Churches in Kota Bharu (One of it rent a building which own by the MB Corp), our brother Penarik Besa already posted a reply to your email in his site. So maybe I can relax a bit and do the photo things later.

Take care bro.


Mat Salo said...

Bro Sheih...

Thanks, man. Brother PB pon dah help to clear it up - and I already posted a comment there.

Yang sedih tu kat Indo citer ini wrongly and falsely insinuating PAS yang buat... fitnah belaka.

Happy shootin bro'!

Unker Zorro,

Buddy DS Azmi eh? Haha. Yes, man, in this age of instant messaging, email etc, no excuse for the "ding-dong" your daughter had to experience. Worse, the monetory loss that accompanied the ding-donging..

Actually, to be fair, I also had some bad experiences with INS. The Dept "lost" my original application - which was approved. But by the time a year had passed -and had to fork out more $$$ to start the whole process again...

I think this is true of most gomen depts - whether US or Bolaysia. The only "efficient" deparments are Inland Revenue....

Hantu Laut said...

Dear Mat Salo,

Although, it is not a government policy, a lot of prejudices still exists in the US against coloured people.I doubt very much Obama has a chance to enter the White House .If the Democrats are not careful with their choice of candidate it could be another Republican government.

I hope you don't mind me asking you a small favour.I have put a link to your blog and I hope, maybe, you could do the same. My website http://hantulautan.blogspot.com/

Many thanks.

Mat Salo said...

Hey bro',

Almost missed your comment here. Thanks for visiting, yes I'm honored and will do the same...

You're right - in the overwhelming White America, Pak Obama stands to lose. It'll be a long, long, time before people see beyond race and religion...

QueenB said...

Wah, Pak Duta Malaysia (tak bertauliah) di Indonesiaraya? Syabas, dong ah!

Mat Salo said...


Bener mbak Putri B.. Banyak Dong ah yang sya ngak bertauliah...